Plans to build an £85million Disney-style 'D-Day Land' theme park close to the World War II landing beaches of northern France have caused outrage.
Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy region, said he wanted to see the tourist attraction in place for the 80th anniversary of the June 6th 1944 invasion by Allied troops.
'All that's left is to find building land, not on the D-Day beaches themselves, but very close to Juno, Omaha or Utah,' he said, referring to three of five landing sectors.
Mr Morin said he hoped a Hollywood director would help choreograph a 'spectacular' permanent show which would attract thousands to his region.
There would be battle re-enactments, cinemas, sound-and-light shows, and other attractions designed to appeal to thrill-seeking tourists.
But opponents said the proposed park would be an insult to the thousands who were killed and wounded on D-Day, and during the ensuing Battle of Normandy.
These included British and American troops who were involved in the Liberation of France, and then the final defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
A spokesman for France's National Research Group, made up of historians who cover the war years, said: 'The Normandy landings is a page in the history of France which should be respected' and not turned into a money-spinning business venture.
The spokesman said the project 'will seriously harm the ecology of the area, but also lacks respect for the veterans and those killed during the Normandy landings and the battle than followed.'
The group has launched a petition against the park, which by Tuesday morning had already reached more than 900 signatures.
Their fear is that the theme park – which has been nicknamed 'D-Day Land' – would be in the style of the hugely popular Disneyland Paris, which attracts more than 15 million visitors a year.
Olivier Paz, the Mayor of Merville-Franceville, where British parachutists were involved in fierce fighting to destroy a German gun battery before the D-Day landings, said the new project 'should not be allowed to become Disneyland.'
Some five million tourists a year visit Normandy to view world famous historical sites, including the Normandy beaches, and the cemeteries, monuments and museums nearby.
A memorial dedicated to the British Fallen was inaugurated in 2019 by then Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
It is currently under construction in the coastal village of Ver sur Mer, just above the British Gold Beach, and will open in September.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.